How to kill a swamp (red) maple

fthurberJuly 22, 2011

I am planting a Atlantic White cedar swamp along my stream but there is a big nasty red maple crowding out everything. It roots are like iron and it shaded the whole wet area.

The problem is that my wife is neurotic about not cutting down trees. We have 4 acres and 500 acres behind us full of trees so you would think that cutting one would not be a big deal but it is.

How can I discreetly kill that rotten tree? It would be very hard to girdle underground. I have lopped off branches and sprayed the wound with roundout to no effect. help.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Why is it that your wishes for a new Atlantic White Cedar swamp are more important than you wife's desire for a mature shade tree?

If the maple is in bad shape or at the end of its NATURAL life, you ought to be to explain this to her in terms of the value of exchanging several youthful trees with many years ahead of them for one in serious decline. Or talk to her about the aesthetics of your cedar copse, or the wild life connection, etc.

If it's truly in bad shape, take pictures and post them in the TREE FORUM so that you can get all kinds of ammunition from the very knowledgeable people over there to persuade your wife. I'll be the first one to help, if that's the case.

But be prepared for a ration of you know what if the tree is healthy. Large, established trees are extremely valuable in the shade they provide, the CO2 they sequester, their buffering ability against air, water, and noise pollution.

But don't be a lying liar weaving lies to your wife and killing this tree behind her back. That's a rotten thing to do.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 2:41PM
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Sounds like a marriage counseling session is in order. If my hubbie purposely killed a plant and tried to hide the reason for its demise, there would be a major explosion, even after 51 years of being together.

You can try to convince her that your way is best, but you need at least to talk it out.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 7:29PM
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I love my wife dearly but she has a tree neurosis brought on no doubt by her dad's rampant chainsawing.

Out situation is this: it is a mature red among about 80 other ones on our property but its position is really bad. It is right next to a beautiful yellow birch and shading half of it out. In addition it is in a swampy area where I want to re-establish a cedar swamp; I don't know if any of you have tried to plant under a swamp maple but it is almost impossible because of its shallow iron-like roots. This tree is not a good neighbor to other trees.

There used to be cedar swamps all through our area but cutting for shingles a century ago and subsequent invasion by swamp maples have driven most local cedar swamps to extinction.

The seeds I am using for me re-forestation are from a local cedar swamp that only has a handful of magnificent trees left. They seem to have a bit of genetic distinctiveness so I want to preserve this strain and re-introduce a local cedar swamp.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 6:42PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Your reasons are clearly valid. Have you tried to explain this calmly and carefully to your wife?

I'd go heavy on the historical value of your cedars and trump it with how common place (ubiquitous) the red maple is. Warn her that the maple IS going to come down so that you can prepare for the planting and that you hope she will soon learn to appreciate the improvements you are trying to make to the property.

You might want to confess that you were going to do this behind her back but because you LOVE her SOOOOO much, you just couldn't do that. ;-)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 11:37PM
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lukifell(zone5 NH)

To fthurber: Hello!

I wish for an update concerning your plans to plant Atlantic White Cedar. Have you made any progress ?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 9:34PM
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Marital communication aside, I find what you propose reasonable, and for that matter, historically and ecologically valid. I've girdled many balsam poplars in a similar situation on my property, that of young white cedars (Thuja occidentalis) being overshadowed and inhibited. I just used ax, saw, or whatever I had on me to girdle the stems, roughly at breast height. Not really sure what you meant by needing to go subterranean to girdle. I also used the technique of a spiral pattern in my girdling, under the belief that this may prevent the girdled trees from developing a weak spot all at one level. Not really sure that ultimately makes sense though. But in any case, the girdling worked, albeit, it can take three years for the girdled trees to run out of steam and quit leafing out. But no harm there.

I totally get your point about the valuable swamp conifers being selectively removed from these sites. People look at me funny when I say that here in WI there used to be innumerable pockets of cedar/tamarack, and that these proved so valuable to early-days barn builders, etc. that that resource is all but extirpated from some areas. Yet it is most definitely true.

I applaud your efforts and acumen to understand a bit of what's happened at such sites. Provided you and wife can come to a mutual understanding, I wish you much success.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 11:15AM
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